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Civil jury says man responsible for woman’s 2011 death at California mansion

By www.cbsnews.com

Rebecca Zahau's family argued that her boyfriend's brother hit her, sexually assaulted her, strangled her, and then staged a hanging to make the death look like suicideRead full story

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  • The mystery of the death of Rebecca Zahau has been a hot topic in the podcast world. How the San Diego police ever thought a woman could bind her own hands behind her back, stuff a shirt into her own mouth and hang herself from a second story balcony is beyond me. Makes me wonder how many other SD homicides have been wrongfully ruled accidental or self-inflicted.

  • Kelly Ross
    Kelly RossWriter at Momicide

    I’m pretty sure the crime scene was well outside of the usual scope for the San Diego Sheriff's Department. One end of the rope Rebecca Zahau was hanging from was tied to her bed while the other led to the balcony where police found her toe and heel prints, along with a male bootprint. There was also a witchcraft book on her night table.

    I’m glad the family decided to keep fighting for justice even after the local authorities made it nearly impossible for them.

  • Nick Vellis
    Nick VellisAuthor at Dig Two Graves: Revenge or Honor

    Though there has been much speculation about Rebecca Zahau being found bound hand and foot at the time of her alleged suicide it is not at all uncommon. In my own personal experience as an investigator I found a hang suicide victim bound with his hands behind his back. Hanging is the third most common form of suicide and accounts for 13% of all female suicides. Law enforcement is very much atuned to attempts to cover homicide with a staged crime scene. I not saying local police are right just that

    Though there has been much speculation about Rebecca Zahau being found bound hand and foot at the time of her alleged suicide it is not at all uncommon. In my own personal experience as an investigator I found a hang suicide victim bound with his hands behind his back. Hanging is the third most common form of suicide and accounts for 13% of all female suicides. Law enforcement is very much atuned to attempts to cover homicide with a staged crime scene. I not saying local police are right just that they might be. The fact that a civil jury found Shacknai responsible is not surprising as the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt as required in a criminal action. Regardless of who is responsible this case remains a tragedy.

  • Jason Noe
    Jason NoeServer at The Tin Pan

    The cryptic message left in large print on her bedroom door “she saved him can you save her” screams that the whole thing was staged. Experts were able to examine Adam Shacknai’s handwriting and determined he has a very odd way of writing the letter “A” and it was an exact match to what was on the door.

  • Doug Rabb
    Doug RabbRetail Manager

    The day before her death, Zahau went to the airport to drop off her 13-year-old sister who was visiting from Missouri, and then picked up Adam Shacknai, who had come to provide emotional support after the loss of his nephew.

    If I could be a fly on the wall to see that initial interaction I would.

  • Tess Hutchison
    Tess HutchisonFiber Artist at The Geeky Knot

    This looks like lazy police work to me. Body found hanging, clearly a suicide. The coroner likely went off the word of the police rather than doing a thorough investigation of their own, documenting injuries without thinking anything of them. The police have a duty to reopen this case at this point. I hope the district attorney now sees fit to bring Shacknai up on murder charges.

  • Nick Seoane
    Nick Seoane Set Lighting Tech at Film & Television

    Investigators said were unable to find any other DNA at the scene besides Zahau's, but the coroner did find multiple head traumas.

    How did they not find any of Adam’s DNA if he had cut her down before anyone else arrived? It never made sense.

  • Erin Fleming
    Erin FlemingPodcast host at Redrum Blonde

    I’m very familiar with this case from the various true crime podcasts that have covered it. The notion that it was ever considered a suicide was ridiculous. Why would someone choose such a complicated manner as having their hands and feet bound before hanging themselves? Her brother-in-law has motive. With this court decision, maybe the criminal case will be reopened & he will be charged.

  • Karen  Andrews
    Karen AndrewsPodcast Researcher

    I can understand why the suicide theory was plausible. Two days before, her boyfriends son died from a fatal fall that occurred while she was babysitting. It was an accident, but the poor boy spent three days in the hospital fighting for his life before he finally passed. I am sure the level of guilt she felt was beyond comprehension.

  • I also look forward to say when someone is charged in her death. It’s obvious this woman did not kill herself.

  • This has always been such an interesting case to me. A tragedy that should have never happened. I always felt he had done it though. It’s sick to think of what she went through.

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